The body of a Berkshire County native killed in Afghanistan earlier this month was welcomed home by supporters who lined the streets of downtown Pittsfield.
The body of 24-year old U.S. Army Specialist Mitchell Daehling arrived Wednesday morning at Barens Air National Guard Airport in Westfield, and shortly after 10:30 was transported through downtown Pittsfield to the Dery Funeral Home.
A long line of supporters gathered along South Street and North Street, many holding American flags.
Sheila Kalinowski, a Pittsfield resident, stood with family members in Pittsfield’s Park Square. She said she wanted to bring her children to the procession to show them the level of community support on display.
In uniform was Larry Brothers, Senior Vice Commander of the Dalton American Legion Post 155.
Kathy Mickle, of the Heart At Home Committee, helped encourage the turnout in Pittsfield. She said that she was overjoyed by the number of people who came out to support the Daehling family.
As the procession passed by, supporters showed their respect by waving flags, but remained quiet. The hearse was led through Pittsfield by a Massachusetts state police cruiser, a Dalton police cruiser, and riders with the Patriot Guard, a group of veteran motorcycle riders that honors fallen U.S. military personnel…
As the crowd was dispersing, Adam Demarsico of North Adams, brother of Private First Class Michael DeMarsico, who was killed last year in Afghanistan, said that the procession hit close to home.
But Demarsio also said he was happy to see the support.
Calling hours will be held from 4 to 7 pm Thursday at St. Agnes Church in Dalton. A funeral with full military honors will be held Friday also at St. Agnes at 11 am.
Daehling will be awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star medal, and the Army Good Conduct Medal, Combat Infantryman. He was killed along with two of his fellow soldiers by an improvised explosive device. Daehling served with the 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, from Fort Bliss, Texas.
In addition to family and friends, guests are scheduled to include U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Richard Neal, and state Secretary of Veteran’s Services Coleman Nee.
Daehling’s body will be brought to Lewiston, Idaho, to be buried alongside his grandfather, Kenneth J. Sander.